The Brazilian football league system consists of four tiers:
Campeonato Brasileiro Série A
Campeonato Brasileiro Série B
Campeonato Brasileiro Série C
Campeonato Brasileiro Série D
State Championships are used to promote clubs to the national leagues.
Campeonato Brasileiro de Clubes da Série A (Brasileirão)
The top tier of the Brazilian football league system is Campeonato Brasileiro de Clubes da Série A, commonly known as the Brasileirão. There is room for 20 teams in the league and the season runs from May to December each year. During a season, 380 matches are held – 38 for each team. Each team meets all the other 19 teams twice; once at home and once away. A win is worth three points, a draw is worth one point and a loss is worth zero points. The team with the most points at the end of the season is crowned Brazilian football champion. If teams are tied, goal difference is used to determine a winner.
The four teams with the lowest amount of points are sent down to Série B.
The official award for the winner of Série A is the Prêmio Craque do Brasileirão. The oldest award is however the Bola de Ouro, which is handed out by the Placar magazine. There are also the Troféu Osmar Santos and the Troféu João Saldanha, awards given by the newspaper Lance!.
Due to the vastness of the country and a lack of infrastructure, nation-wide football competitions is a fairly new phenomenon in Brazil. Taça Brasil was formed in 1959 to provide Brazilian representatives to Copa Libertadores de America. Toreneio Roberto Gomes Pedrosa replaced Taça Brasil in 1967/1968, but it wasn't until 1971 that the modern Campeonato Brasileiro was created. By then, advancements in civil aviation had made nation-wide football leagues more feasible. Before that, state championships were the most prestigious football competitions. In 2010, Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF) retroactively declared all the champions from Taça Brasil and Toreneio Roberto Gomes Pedrosa Brazilian football champions, i.e. the same title that is given to winners of Série A.
Up until 2003, the competition format of Série A changed nearly every year. Since then, a double round-robin system has been used and the team with the most points is declared champion without the need of final match. Before 2003, the championship normally involved some type of playoff instead of points accumulation.
Since 2006, no team is allowed to have more three foreign players on the field or on the bench in a single match.
Qualifications for international competitions
The top four Série A teams qualify for the following season's Copa Libertadores de America. The team ranked as number four enter the First Stage, while the teams ranked as #1-3 go directly to Second Stage.
The eight top teams from Série A qualify for the following seaon's Copa Sudamericana. All eight teams enter Second Stage. If any of the eight teams win Copa do Brasil in the same season, that berth is given to team number nine from Série A.